Electric Smoker Vs Charcoal Smoker– Which Is The Better Choice To Purchase?

by Sid Wilson | Published On

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team, nixny.com is reader-supported. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission, at no extra cost to you.

Are you planning on purchasing a smoker, but are confused between an electric smoker and a charcoal smoker? Well, that’s a legitimate dilemma. The choice between an electric smoker and a charcoal smoker solely depends on your requirements. For instance, people who want ease of use can opt for an electric smoker. At the same time, people who want to enjoy the conventional smoking experience can opt for charcoal smokers.

Also Check: Propane Vs Electric Smoker

Apart from this, several other points must be considered before you finalize the best smoker for yourself. In the following article, we will analyze the features of both an electric smoker and a charcoal smoker in detail. This in turn will allow you to make an informed choice.

Electric Smoker


The electric smoker is usually classified as a smoker for beginners. The primary reason behind this classification is that an electric smoker eliminates the need to use a flame. Instead, an electric smoker uses a heating element situated at the bottom of the smoker which performs the essential function of smoldering pellets or wood chips.

It is identical to a home oven. Therefore, an electric smoker will come in handy for people who are accustomed to using an electric oven. If you purchase a digital model of this smoker, the temperature control will be a piece of cake. All you need to do is set the smoker to the required temperature and leave it to itself.

Electirc Smoker

It runs on electric heating elements close to the smoker’s lower end and is positioned below the wood chips or the pellets. The heating element facilitates the smoldering. When this is combined with a high temperature, the meat is cooked, giving off a smoky flavor.

However, some points are noteworthy. You should never use it during rainy or cold weather conditions. The length of its extension cord limits the electric smoker. You can also check this before buying an electric smoker. This smoker isn’t portable, especially when you are going camping. In addition, the flavor offered by it is distinct from that provided by the traditional charcoal smoker. Although the smoker does add a smoky flavor to your food, it is subtler when compared to the flavor offered by the charcoal smoker.

Charcoal Smoker

A charcoal smoker is the most widely used smoker out there. It is the traditional smoker. It is not only known for the quality and taste of the food but also for the journey of the food. The process of smoking using a charcoal smoker involves choosing the charcoal, lighting your desired fuel, taking control of the temperature, and making adjustments in the air vents.

Charcoal Smoker

Most experts suggest that food cooked on it offers the best taste. An electric smoker cannot come close to the food’s flavor. In addition, charcoal smokers are on the inexpensive side. The simple design adds to their affordability. Many models of this smoker come with a 10-year warranty period.

There are some drawbacks when it comes to charcoal smokers. Although essential, they require more attention than an electric smoker does. You need to constantly monitor the smoker’s temperature, adjust the dampers, and restock the wood chips or pellets during a long smoking period.

Electric Smoker Vs Charcoal Smoker

There are several points of difference between an electric smoker and a charcoal smoker:

To start with, the food cooked in an electric smoker is perfectly cooked but has a slightly less strong smoky flavor. On the other hand, a charcoal smoker offers a smoky flavor, but there is a strong chance that your food might not be cooked to perfection.

While an electric smoker enables you to maintain consistent temperatures, it is slightly difficult to do so using a charcoal smoker. Nonetheless, consistency and temperature control can come in with practice. An electric smoker offers ease of use. On the other hand, it requires a level of commitment, skill, and practice to master the art of using a charcoal smoker.

The typical size of an electric smoker is 18x18x34 whereas a charcoal smoker comes in a wide variety of sizes.

The hopper capacity of an electric smoker is very little to none. In contrast, a charcoal smoker has a high hopper capacity. An electric smoker is a less reliable appliance than a charcoal smoker. This is because an electric smoker is way more complex in composition than a charcoal smoker. Therefore, the breakdown of one or more parts can lead to inconvenience. A charcoal smoker, on the other hand, has fewer parts and as a result, is less prone to problems.

Electric Vs Charcoal Smokers

While an electric smoker is easy to clean and maintain, a charcoal smoker requires regular cleaning which can be slightly messy. A charcoal smoker offers greater mobility than an electric smoker. While the length of its extension cord limits an electric smoker, you can literally take your charcoal smoker anywhere.

An electric smoker has fewer years of warranty than a charcoal smoker. While an electric smoker is well-suited to beginners, a charcoal smoker is an ideal option for experts. The temperature controls of an electric smoker are easy to use. On the other hand, you will need a certain amount of practice to control the temperature using a charcoal smoker.

Although the initial cost of an electric smoker is higher, its running costs are relatively lower than those of a charcoal smoker. The accessories that come with an electric smoker include a thermostat, meat probe, and temperature gauge. On the other hand, the accessories that come with a charcoal smoker are a temperature gauge and thermometer. Last but not least, an electric smoker has fewer users as compared to a charcoal smoker.

Difference Between Electric Smoker And Charcoal Smoker

In the section that follows, we will observe a detailed comparison between an electric smoker and a charcoal smoker:

  1. Quality Of Smokey Food

    An electric smoker is a well-recommended option if you are new to the world of using smokers. It will offer you consistent control over the temperature. On the other hand, if you can easily control the temperature, you can opt for a charcoal smoker.

    If the quality of the food is of utmost importance to you, you should go for a charcoal smoker. While you won’t be able to create crispy skin using an electric smoker, you can easily do so using a charcoal smoker. A charcoal grill offers effective ventilation as compared to an electric smoker.

    Furthermore, a charcoal smoker will provide a more immersive flavor than an electric smoker will. Nonetheless, it is worthwhile to note that an electric smoker offers foods with a subtle flavor. You might have to adjust to this if you aren’t adept enough to control the temperature in a charcoal smoker.

  2. Temperature Range/Control

    An electric smoker provides very few temperature controls because it is primarily designed for smoking. The temperature range offered by an electric smoker is 100 to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. This is, therefore, a viable option if you want to slow smoke nuts, veg, meat, and fruit.

    It is a task to maintain a charcoal smoker at a low temperature. While you can set a thermometer to a temperature of 100 degrees, it is difficult to maintain a charcoal fire at the same temperature. The approximate lower limit of a charcoal smoker is 125 degrees Fahrenheit. In a charcoal smoker, however, you can aim for temperatures as high as 350 degrees Fahrenheit or even more if you wish to ignite a charcoal fire.

  3. Versatility

    An electric smoker is manufactured to serve the primary function of smoking. It is not equipped to grill or roast any food item. While an electric smoker can be used for cold smoking, it is not cold smoking in reality.

    Now a charcoal smoker enables you to grill. However, it is not equipped to do direct heating. You can easily heat your smoker up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, charcoal smokers take the lead here.

  4. Cooking Capacity

    Charcoal smokers come in similar sizes as electric smokers. However, charcoal smokers are also available in king sizes. Note that a vertical model of either of the two smokers will have a greater capacity than a horizontal smoker. Nonetheless, electric smokers are to the win here since they have the potential to smoke as many as six turkeys simultaneously.

  5. Convenience

    While electric smokers use electricity to smoke food, charcoal smokers are dependent on burning charcoal, temperature control, as well as maintenance of air vents. Therefore, it is evident that electric smokers offer ease of use. Given that the source of power is not interrupted, an electric smoker can last for days without requiring a charcoal refill.

    The heating elements of an electric smoker will turn on themselves, thereby reducing the time required to cook. An electric smoker also allows you to smoke. The digital element will take charge of the work. However, if you like to take your smoker along with you everywhere you go, an electric smoker might not be an ideal option. The primary reason behind this is that you need a power outlet to use your electric smoker, one that might not be available at all places.

  6. Weather Conditions

    Cold or rainy weather conditions are likely to impact the heat retention of your smoker. While a good quality smoker will sustain the heat irrespective of the weather conditions, a cheap smoker will fail to do so.

    An electric smoker has a limited temperature range as compared to a charcoal smoker. Therefore, your electric smoker might find it difficult to sustain the heat at the right temperature. But an electric smoker is unaffected by wind because it is not dependent on vents and uses electricity as its primary fuel source.
    In a charcoal smoker, on the other hand, you will have to block the wind because a charcoal smoker is dependent on the smoke that needs to be produced.

    It is worthwhile to note that an electric smoker loses its applicability if it is left under the rain. Therefore, always make sure you store your electric smoker properly when it is not in use. At the same time, a charcoal smoker is not an ideal option when it comes to wet weather conditions. In bad weather, however, a charcoal smoker is likely to work better.

  7. Mobility

    Mobility is an important factor especially when you don’t want to leave your smoker on the patio or any outdoor setting for that matter. While both an electric smoker and a charcoal smoker come with wheels for easy movement, a charcoal smoker is relatively heavier.

    As a result, it might be cumbersome for you to move a charcoal smoker. An electric smoker, however, is easy to move around. But you should not take your electric smoker out on vacation because it has many fragile parts that are prone to damage.

  8. Cooking Area

    The cooking area provided by an electric smoker and a charcoal smoker is similar. If you enjoy attending to a large number of people, a vertical charcoal smoker is an ideal option for you. In addition, an electric smoker has the potential to make turkeys, chicken, and pork belly. The factors that influence the cooking area include your budget, the smoker size, and the kind of vertical smoker that you will opt for.

  9. Maintenance

    The cleaning and maintenance process of an electric smoker is relatively easy compared to that of a charcoal smoker. Nonetheless, make it a point to clean the exteriors and scrape the racks between several uses of the smoker. A charcoal smoker, on the other hand, calls for a more intensive cleaning primarily because it produces a large amount of smoke.

  10. Price

    When it comes to price, a charcoal smoker is undoubtedly a more pocket-friendly option than an electric smoker. Therefore, if you have a budget constraint, you can choose from a wide variety of charcoal smokers. On the other hand, if you wish to purchase a smoker on the expensive side, you should opt for an electric smoker.

  11. Running Costs

    While the initial costs of an electric smoker are high, it has fewer operating costs. A charcoal smoker requires a large number of wood pellets and therefore, falls on the expensive side when it comes to operating costs.


It is evident that both a charcoal smoker and an electric smoker have their respective set of merits to offer. When it comes to convenience and ease of maintenance, an electric smoker is your go-to. On the other hand, if you are someone who will appreciate the classic BBQ flavor, you should go for a charcoal smoker. While an electric smoker is well-suited for a beginner, a charcoal smoker is the best option for someone who is an expert in the field of using a smoker.

Final Verdict

The choice between an electric smoker and a charcoal smoker comes down to personal choice. If you have the budget, you can in fact own both these smokers. But from an economical perspective, you should take several factors into consideration such as the ease of use, maintenance, purchase cost, operating cost, and the like before you arrive at a concluding decision for yourself.

Rate this post
Sid Wilson

Being a father, a golf lover, and an engineer by profession are the things that define Sid Wilson. He spends most of his time in his garage building and experimenting with stuff. Unscrewing things and then screwing them up is his favorite hobby. Doing these things in his garage has made him what, he is today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *